20 September 2015

UK Car Industry: BMW MINI #3


Mini was an iconic model that survived for over twenty years and ended in the year 2000. How do you follow that. Like Land Rover trying to reinvent the Defender, it was no easy task. In 1998, BMW started on a replacement and rather than try keep it mainstream, they took it into the premium sector. The car above was the result.

As for 2014, squeezing in at number three in UK production numbers and up one place on 2013 is MINI, with 179,000 cars made (plus 300 light commercials). There is also an engine plant that made 225,000 units but strangely the engine volume is well down on usual. MINI car production numbers will be up in 2015, but there is a cap of about 260,000 at Oxford so some production is outsourced to Austria and now the Netherlands. When one considers value added to the UK economy, car and engine assembly is substantial, but design work I believe is done in Munich.

The MINI car has done what all cars seem to do these days, and that is grow in size. It has design cues from the original but is positioned in the market quite differently. of course it had to if it was to be a viable model. Making small mainstream cars is about volume and breaking even if possible. For 2014 global sales, simply click here. For recent historical sales by nation, try here.

What BMW did right was create a market for small and premium. MINI now has competition in the segment as others followed. What it did wrong was bring out variants that didn't sell well. Perhaps it was an attempt to stay ahead of the field, but it wasn't necessary as the classic MINI has a history that will always make it something special. The range is therefore being trimmed as it should.

The new 5 door MINI is a welcome addition for those who wanted the car but needed more portals. The 3 door has the classic mini look but I would take the 5 door for practicality. It will be interesting to see how the sales split goes if that data becomes available.

Production share (car) of the UK total: 11.7%. UK value rating: 6/10.

The previous article is for Land Rover (found here). Next is Toyota (found here).

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